Why recycling is important
Recycling of various waste materials is highly crucial for environmental sustainability. Recycling refers to the conversion of waste products into reusable form. The use and reuse of such materials prevent the need for utilization of fresh resources. Further, if such resources are limited then recycling helps to conserve such resources over a period. For example, preservation of fossil fuels and reduction in the usage of conventional energy, are some of the beneficial effects of recycling. Moreover, recycling helps to combat, the increase in air pollution and water pollution. The emission of green house gasses is also reduced by stringent recycling of various waste products.
All such issues help to increase environmental sustainability and preserve the quality and composition of our environment over a period f time. Such sustainability helps in the maintenance of human and animal life. The awareness of waste recycling has increased all across the globe, and various measures are implemented to aggregate the waste products. Such measures include municipality policies, mass awareness, and community hygiene. Recycling has been considered as an important aspect of modern waste reduction strategies, which are beneficial both for resource prevention and human health.
Various types of materials, especially which are biodegradable are ideally suited for recycling. Such materials include plastic, glass, paper, textiles and various types of e-wastes. Thus, recycling helps to utilize certain quality or traits present in an original material that was underutilized or unutilized during its initial usage. Hence, recycling creates an opportunity to increases the viability and utilization of the maximum potential of a resource. Recent developments in waste management technology have potentiated the process of recycling all across the globe. Hence, recycling helps in conservation of energy, exploitation of raw materials and resists change in climate. All these are correlated to increased sustainability of our environment.
Recycling helps in reducing the utilization of raw materials like various metals, forests, and fossil fuels and, therefore, protects their degradation. The decreased level of consumption of such raw materials helps in preserving the integrity of the environment. One of the major benefits of recycling is to prevent habitat loss. The need for raw materials increases with increase in globalization and population explosion. Therefore, natural resources like forests and woodlands are vulnerable to exploitation for paper, wood, and pulp. Moreover, the finished products from these raw materials increase the demand for energy and add various chemicals that act as environmental pollutants and toxicants.
This situation leads to further degradation of natural habitats of various animal and plant species, which leads to a decrease in biodiversity. A loss in biodiversity disturbs the ecosystem and reduces the sustainability of the environment. Therefore, recycling helps to prevent habitat loss and protects the biodiversity of such habitats. The present article will review various aspects of recycling, and their significance about sustainability of the environment through appraisal of various annotated bibliographies.
1. Moore, C. J. (2008). “Synthetic polymers in the marine environment: A rapidly increasing, long-term threat.” Environmental Research 108 (2): 131–139.
In this article, the authors expressed their concerns over the growing accumulation of synthetic polymers (plastics) in the marine environment. These polymers are one of the major causes of pollution of the marine environment and account for around 60%-80% of marine filling. They endorsed that accumulation of plastics in the marine environment was harmful to the marine biota. Various species like albatross and fulmars cannot make a distinction between plastic and food, which leads to toxic effects in them. The plastics dumped in the ocean are either >5mm or <5 mm. The authors suggested that although the origin of macromolecular plastics can be traced, but <5mm plastics are difficult to trace down to their origin. The authors further suggested that accumulation of plastic debris on the sea floor is also harmful. Such accumulation leads to inhibition of gas exchange between overlying waters and disrupts the benthos species.
Critique: From the above article it becomes apparent that the need of recycling of plastics is highly important. This will reduce the generation additional plastic debris, which will help in the sustenance of marine biota and marine ecosystems. However, the article could have provided the avenues of minimizing plastic wastes in the marine habitat.
2. Steffen, L. (2010). “Resource recovery and material flow in the city: Zero waste and sustainable consumption as paradigms in urban development” Sustain. Dev. Law Policy XI: 28–38
In the above article, the authors expressed the concept of generation of “Zero-waste” cities. With an increase in urbanization and increase in wastes are quite apparent. Densely populated cities aiming to generate waste management strategies whereby a 100% recycling from the existing wastes could be possible. This is the concept of “zero waste” cities. The study evaluated the key drivers, opportunities, challenges and threats in creating ‘zero-waste” cities. The two cities that were critically analyzed were Adelaide and Stockholm in the perspective of social, economic, political, technical and environmental context. The authors concluded that if strategies, tools, and technological advancements can be implemented, these two cities can accomplish their vision of attaining the status of “Zero-waste” cities. The authors also concluded that such practices must be affordable, practicable and ensured by the local regulatory framework to be successful in the context of other cities too.
Critique: This article once again expressed the concern of waste accumulation and environmental impact. It stated the importance of recycling quite clearly. However, the feasibility on technological and manpower availability would be critical to maintaining the status of such “Zero-waste” cities.
3. Brunner, P. H. (1999). “In search of the final sink.” Environ. Sci. & Pollut. Res. 6 (1): 1
The author expressed the concerns regarding material flow in the environment. It was highlighted in this article in most cases we are unaware of the final sink of a waste product or its source. Such sinks may be air, water or land. Unless the final sinks of such wastes are not known, it will be difficult to control environmental pollution and sustainability. The author expressed that although recycling is an excellent alternative to holding back a particular waste from reaching its final source, however even the reuse of such products have to have a final sink. This sink should be identified to take rigorous and appropriate action plans to minimize accumulation of such wastes that may lead to the destruction of habitats or biota.
Critique: The article clearly expressed the concern for a final waste product either in a recycled form or a non-recycled form. Identification of the final destination is very important to predict environmental degradation and probable loss of biota over a period.
4. Giovanis, E.(2014). “Relationship between Recycling rate and Air Pollution: Evidence from Waste Management Municipality survey in the State of Massachusetts. Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=2479296.
In this study, the author examined the relationship of recycling rates of solid wastes and air pollution from a municipality waste data. Two approaches were used namely the fixed effects model and Stochastic frontier analysis. The author noted a negative relation between particulate particles in the air of 2.5 micrometers or less in size when recycling is present.
Critique: The article clearly endorses a reduction in the size of the particulate matter with an increase in recycling rate. Therefore, recycling should be controlled and should follow the abatement criteria for reducing or maintaining the levels of SPM.
5. Katsuyuki,N; Ryosuke,A; Hiroshi, Y; & Nobuhiko, N.(2007).Evaluating the reduction in green house gas emissions achieved by the implementation of the household appliance recycling in JapanThe International Journal of Life Cycle Assessment, 12(5): 289-298
The article elucidated the impact of Home Appliance Recycling Law in Japan. This law is applied to recycling protocol of televisions, air conditioners and washing machines which has the potential of emitting green house gasses. Green house gasses especially from home appliances consist of various chlorofluorocarbons. Global warming is the process whereby, various “green houses” traps the infrared radiations and prevents them to get reflected back into the atmosphere. The trapping of solar radiations leads to increased surface temperature of the earth. Hence, it was considered that reduction of green house gasses through home appliance recycling must be implemented. The study indicated that enactment of such laws imposed a cost burden on the consumers to pay additionally for recycling charges, but it also revealed that such law significantly helped to reduce the emission of green house gasses in the atmosphere.
Critique: The article portrayed the necessity and utility of recycling for reducing the emission of green house gasses. However, technological advancements need to be implicated to reduce the cost burden on the consumers for the law to be effective and popular.
6. Sepúlveda, A.; Schluep, M.; Renaud, F. G.; Streicher, M.; Kuehr, R.; Hagelüken, C.; et al. (2010). “A review of the environmental fate and effects of hazardous substances released from electrical and electronic equipment during recycling: Examples from China and India” Environmental Impact Assessment Review 30: 28–41
The article portrays the impact of illegal global trade of recycling of waste electrical and electronic equipment specially in developing countries. The authors implicated that poor recycling technique followed in these countries were leading to the generation of environmental toxicants like lead and polybrominated dioxins. The authors endorse the need for proper recycling technologies and are optimistic that such advanced and improved technologies will help to reduce the emission of such toxicants.
Critique: Although there has been a global awareness and consensus on recycling, the technology use in different countries is not uniform. This leads to jeopardy in environmental stability. Hence, standardized equipment and technology must be ensured through law for the purpose of recycling, especially in developing countries.
7. Grosse, F. (2010). “Is recycling ‘part of the solution’? The role of recycling in an expanding society and a world of finite resources” S.A.P.I.E.N.S. 3 (1): 1–17.
The article clearly portrays the fact that recycling alone cannot reduce the depletion of nonrenewable materials and may not act as the only solution for creating a sustainable society. However, the article endorsed that recycling is an effective way to prevent depletion of non-renewable resources, as because the demand of non-renewable resources will decrease with recycling. The non-renewable resources must be consumed judiciously
Critique: The article indeed endorsed that recycling is an effective way to prevent depletion of non-renewable resources. However, it could have provided an estimation of the degree of sustainability of environment through material recycling.
8. Pimenteira, C.A.P., Pereira, A.S.; Oliveira, L.B.; Rosa, L.P.; Reis, M.M.;Henriques, R.M. Energy Conservation and CO2 Emission Reductions due to Recycling in Brazil;Waste Manage.2004,24,889-897
The article clearly portrayed the benefits related to saving of energy through a waste recycling process. Further, the article highlighted the effects of recycling on mitigation of climate. The energy saved due to recycling helped in reduction of carbon dioxide emissions.
Critique: The benefits of recycling are evidenced through reduced utilization of energy and emission of green house gasses.
9. Burn, Shawn (2006). “Social Psychology and the Stimulation of Recycling Behaviors: The Block Leader Approach.” Journal of Applied Social Psychology 21(8): 611–629.
Recycling to be effective and efficient requires a true participation and intention of the community. The article reflected that all community members are not aware regarding the benefits of recycling and hence do not participate equally in such program
Critique: The article clearly stated the need of awareness programs and community responsibility to ensure recycling right from their household waste management.
10. Morris, J. (2005). Comparative LCAs for curbside recycling versus either landfilling or incineration with energy recovery (12 pp). The International Journal of Life Cycle Assessment, 10(4), 273-284.
The article portrayed that recycling and composting led to the effective diversion of municipal wastes from entering landfills and thus prevented soil or water pollution. It improved the sustainability of waste management. However, such strategies were not uniform all across Canada. The present study implemented a novel and cost-effective criteria of assessing recycling and composting techniques.
Critique: Several cost effective techniques may be used for recycling, and hence the article endorses the fact that recycling can reduce the menace of land fillings.
Brunner, P. H. (1999). “In search of the final sink”. Environ. Sci. & Pollut. Res. 6 (1): 1
Burn, Shawn (2006). “Social Psychology and the Stimulation of Recycling Behaviors: The Block Leader Approach.” Journal of Applied Social Psychology 21(8): 611–629
Giovanis, E.(2014). “Relationship between Recycling rate and Air Pollution: Evidence from Waste management Municipality survey in the State of Massachusetts. Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=2479296.
Grosse, F. (2010). “Is recycling ‘part of the solution’? The role of recycling in an expanding society and a world of finite resources” S.A.P.I.E.N.S. 3 (1): 1–17.
Katsuyuki,N; Ryosuke,A; Hiroshi, Y; & Nobuhiko, N.(2007).Evaluating the reduction in green house gas emissions achieved by the implementation of the household appliance recycling in JapanThe International Journal of Life Cycle Assessment, 12(5): 289-298
Moore, C. J. (2008). “Synthetic polymers in the marine environment: A rapidly increasing, long-term threat”. Environmental Research 108 (2): 131–139.
Morris, J. (2005). Comparative LCAs for curbside recycling versus either landfilling or incineration with energy recovery (12 pp). The International Journal of Life Cycle Assessment, 10(4), 273-284.
Pimenteira, C.A.P., Pereira, A.S.; Oliveira, L.B.; Rosa, L.P.; Reis, M.M.;Henriques, R.M. Energy Conservation and CO2 Emission Reductions due to Recycling in Brazil;Waste Manage.2004,24,889-897
Steffen, L. (2010). “Resource recovery and material flow in the city: Zero waste and sustainable consumption as paradigms in urban development” Sustain. Dev. Law Policy XI: 28–38
Sepúlveda, A.; Schluep, M.; Renaud, F. G.; Streicher, M.; Kuehr, R.; Hagelüken, C.; et al. (2010). “A review of the environmental fate and effects of hazardous substances released from electrical and electronic equipments during recycling: Examples from China and India” Environmental Impact Assessment Review 30: 28–41